Crooks had a busy night this week in Pine as they burglarized eight homes and stole spray paint, coins, a gun and ammunition as well as food, but for unknown reasons left other loot they had gathered behind.
Seven of the burglarized homes were in an area near Hardscrabble Road on the north end of Pine and the eighth was on the southern end of town, said a detective with the Gila County Sheriff's Office.
Apparently the burglars felt the need to eat something during their mini-crime spree between the hours of 7:15 p.m. Monday and 7:30 a.m. Tuesday because among missing items at two of the homes hit were corn dogs and ice cream, he said.
The spokesman said the burglars rummaged through drawers and cabinets in all of the homes except one, but left without taking all of the loot they gathered, which police found near the front door of at least one of the homes in a red knapsack.
During the night of crime, the burglars also spray painted walls and doors of several of the homes with what detectives think might be club or gang markings.
The spokesman said detectives were able to gather fingerprint and DNA evidence that they are confident will help investigators.
"We also have the serial number of the shotgun that was stolen from one of the homes along with ammunition and we will be keeping a close watch to see if it turns up," he said.
"We have a few suspects we are looking at," said the spokesman. "But no arrests have been made yet."
The sheriff's office is asking the public to call them if they have any information or saw anything that might help them catch who is responsible.
"We aren't absolutely sure at this time, but it looks like this was not a professional job and may be a crime of opportunity done by kids," said the spokesman.
All of the homes except the first one burglarized belong to part-time residents.
At the first home, thieves broke into a garage and took only spray paint valued at about $3 that a 81-year-old female resident used to paint faux flowers.
Across from the first burglary, the crooks hit another home with a three-panel garage door where the owner kept construction supplies and equipment.
"It looks like they tried to take a truck from an adjacent carport, but couldn't do it, so they tagged the garage doors and apparently left," said the spokesman for GCSO.
From there, the thieves hit the third home about two blocks away, breaking in through the front door glass.
At the third home, nothing was taken, but detectives found a knapsack full of items left behind by the crooks after they ate some corn dogs.
The fourth break-in, a short distance away, was also accomplished through glass panels in the front door, but resulted in no theft, although the burglars again rummaged through the house and tagged it before leaving empty-handed.
The fifth burglary was basically the same as the fourth, but apparently hunger again hit the crooks because the GCSO spokesman said they ate ice cream and again tagged the home before moving on to their next victim.
At the sixth home, the crooks also tagged walls and made off with a pellet gun, which they used to break the front door glass on the seventh home.
They also took sets of valuable U.S. coins in government packages.
"The coins were all those sealed sets of mint pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters from 1963 to 1984," said the GCSO spokesman.
The burglars used the pellet gun to break into the seventh home where they stole the shotgun and ammunition, but left behind a pellet gun laden with their fingerprints, which police are using to track them down, said the GCSO spokesman.
"We have entered the fingerprints and serial number of the stolen shotgun into NCIC," he said.
The eighth and final home was on the southern end of Pine.
There, the crooks attempted to break into the home through a window, but an alarm apparently scared them away, said the GCSO spokesperson.
GCSO is asking anyone who may have seen or heard anything between 7:15 Monday evening and 7:30 Tuesday morning to call 474-2208.